The Court of Appeal, established on 28th October 2014, occupies a jurisdictional tier between the High Court and the Supreme Court. Its main function is to hear appeals from the High Court, both Civil and Criminal.
Jurisdiction of the court
As with the other Superior Courts, some of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal is conferred by the Constitution and some by legislation. The Court of Appeal has authority to hear the following appeals:
A- The Court has jurisdiction to hear appeals in civil proceedings from the High Court
(i) which prior to the Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution would have been heard by the Supreme Court.
(ii) The Court can hear appeals from cases heard in the High Court about whether or not a law is constitutional. The Constitution provides that no laws may be passed restricting the Court of Appeal's jurisdiction to do this.
B- Under the Court of Appeal Act 2014, the Court of Appeal was given the ‘appellate jurisdiction’ previously exercised by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
(i) Appeals by persons convicted on indictment in the Circuit Court, Central Criminal Court and Special Criminal Court now lie to the Court of Appeal. Appeals against the severity of a sentence imposed by those courts also lie to the Court of Appeal.
(ii) The Court of Appeal was also given jurisdiction to hear appeals by the Director of Public Prosecutions on a question of law arising out of criminal trials which resulted in an acquittal.
C- Under the Court of Appeal Act 2014, the Court of Appeal was given the appellate jurisdiction previously exercised by the Courts-Martial Appeal Court.
(i) The appeal is determined on a record of the proceedings at the courts-martial with power to hear new or additional evidence or to refer any matter for report to the president or the judge advocate of the courts-martial.
(ii) If the appeal is against the finding and the sentence, the court may affirm or reverse the finding in whole or in part, or order a new trial or vary the sentence.
(iii) If the appeal is limited to either finding or sentence, the court is confined to dealing with the matter which is the subject of the appeal.
(iv) The court also has power to review a finding or sentence (which was the subject of a previous appeal) where new evidence shows that there has been a miscarriage of justice.
Composition of the court
The Court of Appeal is composed of a President and fifteen ordinary judges. The Chief Justice and the President of the High Court are ex officio judges of the Court of Appeal.
The Court may sit in divisions of three judges. Some interlocutory and procedural applications may be heard by the President alone or by another judge nominated by the President.
Questions of law which could previously be referred by the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court for determination (a 'case stated') are now determinable by the Court of Appeal.
Appeals transferred from Supreme Court to Court of Appeal
Following the establishment of the Court of Appeal, specified appeals pending in the Supreme Court which had been initiated before the establishment day and had not been fully or partly heard by that court were directed by the Chief Justice to be heard and determined by the Court of Appeal.